Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Another book I’ve had to read for class was Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, which is also a graphic novel. Bill Willingham, the writer of Fables, focuses on the fables and fairytales that are told time and time again. In this telling there is a villain called The Adversary that has driven all the characters from these tales from their land into a new settlement, which they have named Fabletown. This settlement has become their sanctuary but they are worried that it will not hold for much longer.

At the start of the tale, Snow White has gone to the kingdom of Sultan Shahryar to ask for help in fighting against The Adversary. This portion of the novel functions as a frame for all the other tales that are told within. Snow White becomes both a character and the narrator by telling these stories to the Sultan as a way to keep herself alive when she is sent to him one night in place of another.

She tells her own story of her marriage to the prince and how things fell apart between them because of her need to get revenge. After this she begins to tell the stories of the other characters who have come to Fabletown, including the Big Bad Wolf, King Cole, and the Prince Frog. Each story works to keep Snow alive by her ‘inability’ to complete each story during the night. She even tells a second story that stars her with her own sister and their encounter with the which from Hanzel and Gretel’s story. This encounter leads to their learning about her background, something that is usually left out from the telling of Hanzel and Gretel.

In each of the stories that Snow tells to the Sultan there are characters that get a background, where they traditionally were not. In addition to the witch, the story of the Big Bad Wolf is revealed, showing how it grew from the runt of the litter to be such a menace to those around him. It was rather refreshing to gain these varying views of the traditional fairytale characters. It also worked in Willingham’s favor because the characters are well known archetypes that he did not have to give character development for readers to recognize.

This is another book that I would not teach or keep in my classroom but I would definitely enjoy reading some of the other volumes in the series.


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